"Landcover and Landscape Properties Associated with Hantavirus Occurrence in Paraguay"

Doug Goodin, Ph.D.

Department of Geography

Professor Goodin's research focuses on the effect of anthropogenic land cover change on the ecology of hantaviruses in Paraguay. Hantaviruses are rodent-hosted viruses known to cause two often-fatal diseases in humans. Since 1995, over 100 cases of hantavirus illness have been reported in Paraguay; seventeen of these were fatal. The hypothesis of this research is that human-induced landscape fragmentation favors the rodents that host hantaviruses, thus increased occurrence of the virus within rodent populations should be associated with anthropogenic land cover change. To test this hypothesis,four observation sites have been established, two in the Chaco bioregion of western Paraguay and two in the Atlantic Forest of eastern Paraguay. One of these pairs of sites is located in an undisturbed area, the other in an area of human disturbance. At each site, rodents are trapped, and there blood and organ tissues analyzed to reveal the presence of hantavirus RNA or antibodies which indicate prior exposure to hantavirus. The habitat characteristics of infected and non-infected rodents are then analyzed using data collected in the field along with moderate and fine-scale imagery acquired from orbiting remote sensing satellites.

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